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Wildfire danger remains high
La Salle County commissioners met Tuesday, June 28, to vote unanimously for a new 90-day ban on all outdoor burning, an order prompted by warnings from firefighters and the Texas Forest Service that the risk of fast-moving wildfires across the region remains dangerously high.
In a brief statement this week, La Salle County Judge Joel Rodriguez outlined what commissioners would review in their decision, including notes from the forest service that drought conditions persist and that “circumstances present in all or part of the unincorporated area of the county create a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning.”
The court’s order bans all outdoor burning of trash, brush, and other substances for the next three months, beginning immediately.
The ban does not include burning activities “related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Natural Resources Commission” and may include firefighter training, public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations, agricultural necessity, or those burns that are prescribed by a certified burn manager.
Violations of the county burn ban are prosecuted as Class C misdemeanors, punishable by fines of up to $500.
La Salle Fire Rescue Chief Daniel Mendez said on Tuesday that he believes the danger to lives and property throughout the county remains high during a period of drought in which “there is no moisture left in grass, trees, and brush,” and that all county residents should be aware of the risk of a rapid rate of spread in the event of a wildfire.
Mendez pointed to an incident Wednesday, June 22, as an example of what may happen if a fire is started outdoors anywhere in the county. Firefighters were dispatched at 9 a.m. to a fire near FM 624 in the southeastern portion of the county and spent more than 16 hours battling the blaze that eventually claimed 370 acres of brush country.
The county was assisted at the scene by firefighters from McMullen County and by emergency resources from the Texas Forest Service based at Uvalde.
“We want people to exercise extreme caution with any kind of burning activity,” Mendez said. “All outdoor burning is banned, but there is still a likelihood that people will barbecue.
“In the event you see any smoke at all, you need to call 911 immediately,” the fire chief said. “Let us sort it out. Don’t wait until it’s too late.”